Effects of sensor types and angular velocity computational methods in field measurements of occupational upper arm and trunk postures and movements
Journal article, 2021

Accelerometer-based inclinometers have dominated kinematic measurements in previous field studies, while the use of inertial measurement units that additionally include gyroscopes is rapidly increasing. Recent laboratory studies suggest that these two sensor types and the two commonly used angular velocity computational methods may produce substantially different results. The aim of this study was, therefore, to evaluate the effects of sensor types and angular velocity computational methods on the measures of work postures and movements in a real occupational setting. Half-workday recordings of arm and trunk postures, and movements from 38 warehouse workers were compared using two sensor types: accelerometers versus accelerometers with gyroscopes—and using two angular velocity computational methods, i.e., inclination velocity versus generalized velocity. The results showed an overall small difference (<2° and value independent) for posture percentiles between the two sensor types, but substantial differences in movement percentiles both between the sensor types and between the angular computational methods. For example, the group mean of the 50th percentiles were for accelerometers: 71°/s (generalized velocity) and 33°/s (inclination velocity)—and for accelerometers with gyroscopes: 31°/s (generalized velocity) and 16°/s (inclination velocity). The significant effects of sensor types and angular computational methods on angular velocity measures in field work are important in inter-study comparisons and in comparisons to recommended threshold limit values.

Sensor fusion


Inertial measurement unit

Field measurement

Threshold limit value



Musculoskeletal disorders




Xuelong Fan

Karolinska Institutet

Carl Mikael Lind

Royal Institute of Technology (KTH)

Karolinska Institutet

Ida-Märta Rhen

Stockholm County Council

Karolinska Institutet

Chalmers, Industrial and Materials Science, Production Systems

Mikael Forsman

Stockholm County Council

Karolinska Institutet

Royal Institute of Technology (KTH)


1424-8220 (ISSN) 1424-3210 (eISSN)

Vol. 21 16 5527

Subject Categories

Medical Laboratory and Measurements Technologies

Other Medical Engineering






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